Interview with Dr. Gregor Gysi about Russia, New East Policy and Belarus: „The round tables from the time of reunification in the GDR could be a model““It is not about turning the transatlantic alliance into a Eurasian one“
Global Review had the honor to have an interview with Dr. Gregor Gysi, foreign policy spokesman for the Left Party on Russia, New East Policy and Belarus..
Foto: ( C) Deutscher Bundestag (German Parliament)
Dr. Gregor Gysi
Born on January 16, 1948, Profession: Lawyer,
Member of the Group in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th electoral terms
Berlin, direct mandate WK 84
• Born in Berlin; divorced, three children.
• 1954 to 1962 Polytechnische Oberschule, 1962 to 1966 Extended Oberschule. At the same time training as a skilled worker for cattle breeding. 1966 Abitur. 1966 to 1970 law studies at the Humboldt University Berlin, 1970 to 1971 assistant judge, then change to the college of lawyers as assistant. PhD 1976.
• Since 1971 lawyer in Berlin; Chairman of the College of Lawyers in Berlin and the Council of Presidents of the College of Lawyers in the GDR from 1988 to 1989. Member of the ver.di.
• December 1989 to January 1993 chairman of the PDS; Member of the People’s Chamber from March 18 to October 2, 1990, chairman of the PDS parliamentary group.
• Member of the Bundestag from October 3, 1990 to February 1, 2002; 1990 to 1998 chairman of the PDS group; from 1998 to October 2000 chairman of the PDS parliamentary group.
• From January 17, 2002 until his resignation on July 31, 2002, Berlin Mayor and Senator for Economy, Labor and Women in an SPD-PDS coalition in Berlin.
• Since August 2002 working as a lawyer again.
• Elected directly to the Bundestag again on September 18, 2005, September 27, 2009 and September 24, 2017 in constituency 84 Berlin-Treptow-Köpenick.
• From 2005 to 2015 chairman of the political group DIE LINKE. in the Bundestag
Foreign policy spokesman for the Left Party since 2020
Global Review: Dr. Gysi, your party is proposing an European security architecture with Russia. Could you give us a more concrete understanding of your concept? Should the transatlantic relations be abolished, should Germany and other European states retreat from NATO or build their own European military? How should Europe be safe if there was no US protection or US nuclear umbrella against a highly armed Russia with nuclear weapons and now new weapon systems as cyber weapons, hypersonic weapons, space weapons,etc.?
Dr. Gregor Gysi: There is no peace and security in Europe without, let alone against, Russia. Therefore, a European security architecture must necessarily include Russia and build on a policy of détente and good neighborly relations. After the end of the Cold War, NATO is desperately looking for new adversaries who will give it a right to exist. But where has this course of confrontation taken us? International law is being replaced more and more by the law of the fittest, one gun control and disarmament treaty after another is being terminated, and states are spending unimaginable sums on armaments, while on the other hand climate change advances, hunger and poverty threaten to kill billions of people and the social divide continues to widen. This is a dead end. NATO must be replaced by a system of collective security involving Russia and China. This would enable a global impetus for disarmament that our world urgently needs. And would really ensure Europe’s security. The US nuclear weapons in Germany would be the first target for an adversary in the event of a conflict. There wouldn’t be much left of Germany.
Global Review: The AfD also proposes an European security architecture. While the Gauland faction thinks that Germany should remain a NATO member and reform the alliance, the Höcke faction on the other side says that the German military is a mercanary troop of the USA and that he would leave NATO, where are the differennces between the European security architecture of the Left Party and the AFD? Or is it the same?
Dr. Gregor Gysi: The differences are fundamental. The AfD relies on national egoism, the Left on international understanding. The AfD wants to follow the NATO goal, affirmed by Trump, that Germany should spend two percent of its gross domestic product on the military, over 75 billion euros. The left rejects such a senseless waste of tax money. The AfD does not really have coherent ideas in foreign and security policy, also because politically it tries above all to serve moods. Trump is her role model. But that is not the basis for a serious policy.
Global Review: Putin in 2001 held his speech in the German Parliament and declared: “Nobody doubts the great value of Europe to the United States. But I believe that Europe will only consolidate its reputation as a powerful and independent center of world politics in the long term if it combines its own opportunities with Russia’s human, territorial and natural resources as well as with Russia’s economic, cultural and defense potential. ” I can just agree with it:“
(Emmanuel Todd: World Power USA — An Obituary / Piper-Verlag, Munich-Zurich 2002, p.209).
Does it mean that Putin´s statement that you also have to combine the European and Russian defense potential, would mean that he wanted to get the EU members out of NATO and to make an Eurasian alliance with Russia? What do you think are Putin´s geopolitical goals at that time and at the moment and in the future?Do you think he has more defensive or more aggressive ambitions as he called the dissulion of the Soviet Union „the greatest geopolitical catastrophe in the 20th century“. Does he want to revitalize the Soviet Union or was his war in Georgia and Ukraine just a defensive response against EU and NATO expansion?
Dr. Gregor Gysi: It would have been very helpful for Germany and Europe if Putin’s 2001 speech had been taken seriously. But the West could not stop winning and believed that it could downgrade Russia to a regional power. Apart from the fact that this is already foolish against a veto power in the UN Security Council, the door was slammed shut to create a real political, economic and social alternative for the continent and international security after the end of the Cold War. Instead, NATO moved ever closer to Russia’s borders, duped Russia in the war against Libya on the international stage and, under the leadership of the USA, tried to convert Russia’s economic weakness into military superiority. Putin concluded from this that he must aggressively assert Russia’s geostrategic interests even in confrontation with the West, make Russia a military equal and try to weaken the cohesion in NATO and the EU. He succeeded in doing so, partly to the surprise of the West. In any case, he will not allow Russia’s influence to be reduced any further. Now the world is faced with the question of whether this will lead to a new version of the Cold War as it currently appears, or whether one will remember where it has led and return to a policy that takes into account the interests of the different sides
Global Review: How would you legitimate an EU-or German-Russian cooperation? Because of common interests like world peace, the decline of the USA, the rise of China, the escalating Sino-American conflict, Islamism, Covid and climate change? What about human rights?
Dr. Gregor Gysi: It is not about turning the transatlantic alliance into a Eurasian one, but rather about overcoming national egoism as a whole. If US President Trump does not even shy away from sanctions against allies in order to prevent the Nord Stream gas pipeline for economic reasons and thus open up a market for US liquefied gas, which is promoted under environmentally questionable circumstances, it can be seen where national selfishness is leading.
The real world problems of climate change, social inequality, and peaceful solutions to international trouble spots affect all of humanity and cannot be solved at the expense of part of it. In this respect, European and German cooperation with Russia would be a step on the way to overcoming this national egoism. To do this, we must not, indeed must not, give up transatlantic relations, because Europe and Germany could do a lot to relax the relationship between the USA, Russia and China.
In times of systemic confrontation in the Soviet Union, things were worse for democratic and freedoms than they are today, but reliable agreements and economic cooperation were reached. Changes in this area were achieved through what Egon Bahr described as “change through rapprochement”. I can’t get it into my head why the West thinks today that it can achieve more with sanctions and confrontation.
Global Review: How would you comment the following idea of a New East Policy (Neue Ostpolitik) -prevention of a new arms race
1) Germany is working within the EU and NATO to ensure that Ukraine and Belarus receive a neutral status comparable to Austria in the post-war period and serve as bridge states between the Eurasian Union and the EU
2) Germany is working within the EU, NATO and Ukraine to ensure that Russia is guaranteed its Black Sea port in Crimea, irrespective of the respective Ukrainian governments and, in contrast, reverses the annexation of Crimea and stops support for the pro-Russian rebel groups in Eastern Ukraine and the first step: compliance with the Minsk Agreement
3) Disarmament Initiative Germany is working within the EU, the UN and NATO to ensure that both Russia and NATO prevent an arms race, and/or renegotiating the previous treaties on conventional and nuclear restrictions – with the inclusion of cyberspace and space and maybe China.
4) Resumption of the modernization partnership, especially in the economic sphere-negotiations on the long-term objective of a free trade area or a common market from Lisbon to Vladivostok
5) An EU-Russia ecological cooperation for a sustainable Eurasia from decarbonization in a strategic transition period, hydrogen technology, gas as a bridge technology, sewage management, limiting the deforestation oft he Siberian woods, and other fields of cooperation still have to be discussed.
6) EU-Russian cooperation against an escalation of the Sino- American conflict
Russia and the EU try to stay neutral or make strategic balancing between the two escalating new world powers and try to deescalate a conflict by new initiatives.
7) A joint initiative for an international colaition against pandemics and the restructuring oft he WHO
8) A united Front against Islamism oft he West, the EU, Russia, India and some othe states
Dr. Gregor Gysi: It is crucial to establish trust and to make international law the basis of international relations again. NATO made possible the illegal separation of Kosovo from the rest of Yugoslavia and thus set a precedent, which cannot be reversed any more than Russia’s annexation of Crimea. But one should perhaps negotiate some kind of compensation.
New confidence could be achieved by withdrawing the sanctions, step by step if necessary. This is the only way to bring movement back into international relations – both for joint and, above all, peaceful solutions to the conflicts and for disarmament negotiations.
Sanctions have also become a key barrier to prosperous economic relationships. The experience of the last few years shows that nothing can be achieved with it.
The idea of a united front against Islamism is based on the same false assumptions that currently determine international politics. Extremism is usually linked to experiences of negation and rejection. This would make this even worse. Here, too, it would be important to offer economic, ecological and social perspectives.
Global Review: Would the Left Party support the idea of a European Silkroad Marco Polo 2.0, a giant analog and digital infrastructure project that connects Europe, creates jobs and economic growth, gives the EU and the citizenens and unemployed youth a concrete solution, vision and project and revitalizes iste European prosperity promise and to roll back Chinese influence in the 16 plus 1 states?
Dr. Gregor Gysi: What you call it is not crucial, but Europe clearly needs such a public investment plan. You can and should also cooperate with China. We have to get out of the thinking that economic prosperity and social welfare are linked to national or regional delimitation.
Global Review: The USA , Israel and China are the leading hi tech powers, while the EU is lagging behind in next to every important disruptive technology. Joschka Fischer in his new book „Welcome tot he 21st century“ addresses this technological gap which will deifne the future hierarchy of world powers and calls for an European initiative to overcome this threatening technological gap.Otherwise the EU would decline. Helmut Kohl´s son Walther Kohl just wrote a book proposing that Gemrany should initiate a giant hitech fund, not a state fund as Norway, but a privatly managed investment fund in cooperation with the state for hi tech and start ups that channel the trillions of European savings and dead capital that gets EZB´s zero interests rates into innovative new industries and disruptive technologies as quantum computing, block chain technology,etc.Does the Left Party think this would be an constructive proposal?
Dr. Gregor Gysi: The problem with such considerations is that the profits and, almost more importantly, the technological results of such developments belong to the owners of private capital. It would have to be clearly regulated here that the developed technologies cannot then be used by individuals, but must be made accessible to everyone. That would be the price for a government-guaranteed return with which private capital can be mobilized. When I look at how cautiously the federal government in particular uses its influence, which actually exists through the 9 billion support for Lufthansa, I lack the political imagination that such an approach should be implemented with a CDU ministerof economy..
Global Review: The demonstrations in Belarus continue, the interesting thing is that the workers are now threatening to go on strike. Could this worker movement become a Belarusian Solidarnosc? What would a general strike bring? Or can Lukashenkow, who now wants to visit factories and talk to the workers, convince them that a strike or even a general strike could lead to the collapse of the Covid-damaged economy and would therefore not be in their own and the national interests? Lukashenko won´t agree to hold new elections.. It is questionable what perspective the opposition has with their demonstrations. Is it hoping for the military to change sides? Is that realistic? Would a Belarusian Jaruzelski be conceivable? Perhaps in a row with a round table or is the situation in Belarus different than it was in Poland? Or would Lukascheko himself anticipate such development and impose martial law? Should Germany and the EU support the democratic movement in Belarus? Isn´t there the danger that we will see a similar Russian reaction as in Ukraine, that a civil war breaks out and Belarus is split in a pro-European Western and a pro-Russian Eastern part with a frozen conflict? What is the political position of the Left Party regarding
Dr. Gregor Gysi: In Belarus there were allegedly fraudulent presidential elections and the conditions for fair and democratic elections were not met. With all authoritarian regimes, pressure from the population arises at some point to switch to democracy. An increasing number of people in Belarus want the change and are demonstrating peacefully. In the meantime, the movement has also spread to many companies, and officials from the state are also joining them. Lukashenko has tried to secure Russia’s support, but Putin has clearly signaled that he is only willing to intervene if a third party tries to intervene in Belarus in whatever way. The West would be well advised not to intervene directly or indirectly if it wants to rule out conditions like those in Ukraine. Given the breadth of the protest movement, Lukashenko is faced with the question of whether he is trying to secure his power by force, as it initially seemed, or whether he is paving the way for new elections in the interests of the country. There is little point in referring to an election result that is so heavily doubted and came about under questionable conditions. The round tables from the time of reunification in the GDR could be a model of how one can follow this path in a broad democratic process. In my opinion, new elections, possibly with the support and control of the OSCE, are the only democratic and peaceful way out of the situation that has arisen. However, their result must then be accepted by all sides. I can only advise against sanction threats and decisions. They usually do not hit the rulers, but the population.